The Maven: Achieving Sexual Health and Satisfaction

Sexual health is literacy in the language of the human body and how it functions sexually, insight into our own sexual preferences and desires, and self-advocacy skills that allow us to ask for what we want in an intimate relationship. Sexual health evolves over time and allows us to continuously redefine our sexuality throughout life as our bodies and interests change with experience and aging.

Identify a problem

It isn’t uncommon for women to experience decreased or absent libido, problems achieving orgasm, low sexual self-confidence, negative body image, and medical issues that impair or interfere with sexual function and pleasure. Some of the hallmark signs of sexual problems include pain with sexual activity, declining interest in sex that persists over several months for no apparent reason, worsening self-image or body image, and conflicts about sex in a relationship that increase and seem unresolvable.

Know when to seek help

All of us will, at one time or another, struggle with sexuality regardless of our coupled status, age, or level of sexual sophistication and successes with sex in the past. When you feel stuck or are unsuccessful at managing a sexual conflict within yourself or with your intimate partner then it’s time to get help from a trained sexuality counselor. Mental health practitioners, nurse practitioners, and physicians don’t often have this specialized training. Because of this, most people end up struggling alone—and often unsuccessfully—with problems that may be easier to solve than they realize.

Set treatment goals

The goals of treatment include educating and supporting women in achieving better sexual health, confidence, and satisfaction. A big part of what a sexuality counselor can do is assess levels of sexual literacy and provide you with sexual health education tailored to meet your particular needs. A counselor can also offer you strategies on how to solve sexual problems. Because I have a background in medicine and specialize in women’s health I frequently identify and treat health issues that interfere with sexual function. In all cases this helps reduce the sense of isolation and hopelessness about sex that many women (and men) feel when they come in to see me for help.

Prosper in and out of the bedroom

One of the most important characteristics that anyone can have is self-confidence. Genuine self-confidence makes you powerful and allows you to move through life with faith and optimism. Self-confidence also has an erotic charge. My perspective on sexuality is a whole-life perspective, and I consider it connected to every aspect of our lives. When you feel good about yourself and your sense of self-agency, then your self-confidence grows and so does your erotic energy.

—By Evelyn Resh FP’90

Evelyn Resh FP’90 is a certified sexuality counselor, nurse-midwife, speaker, and author of Women, Sex, Power, and Pleasure and The Secret Lives of Teen Girls. She holds a master’s in public health from Boston University and lives and works in western Massachusetts, where she counsels patients both in an office setting and via Skype and telephone. Resh developed the division of sexual health services at Canyon Ranch, a destination health spa with an integrative health department, where she continues to work part time. She also engages audiences through public speaking and writes for the American Sexual Health Association and other websites, including evelynresh.com.

This article appeared in the summer 2015 issue of the Alumnae Quarterly.

 

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